Young entrepreneurs: Tom Honey, Stoned Pizza

Selling ice-cream on Devon beaches at 15 to owning a fully-fledged pizzeria at 20, meet the young entrepreneur with 45 staff and backing from Jack Wills

Name: Tom Honey
Age: 21
Company: Stoned Pizza
Website: www.stoned.org.uk

“I just wanted a holiday job really, but things got out of control and I opened a restaurant.”

Not a sentence you usually hear in a business success story, but then again, there aren’t too many young entrepreneurs with a trajectory like Tom Honey.

Born in Nottingham, and by his own admission going to a “pretty intense” school in Rutland, Honey’s parents decided to move to North Devon just before his GCSEs to offer him a more relaxing upbringing.

Always holding an entrepreneurial spark, Honey decided to capitalise on North Devon’s influx of tourists during the hot summer months and began selling ice-cream on its beaches.

Aged 15 at the time, Honey used the sole £100 he had in his account and purchased as much ice-cream as possible – receiving a free freezer as a goodwill gesture.

Cycling 14 miles every day to sell his ice cream, Honey started out taking around £70 a day, though this quickly grew to £300 as word spread.

Spurred on by the success of his ice-cream business, at 16 he bought his first pizza oven and began selling freshly made wood-fired pizzas at local beaches and campsites via his pop-up pizzeria.

Allowing customers to watch as their pizza was constructed and cooked, Honey and his mates called the process ‘kitchen theatre’.

Becoming increasingly drawn to the idea of becoming his own boss for good, rather than just for the summer, Honey successfully applied for a start-up loan worth £25,000. With this plus a bank loan from Natwest and backing from Jack Wills co-founder Rob Shaw, Honey had the finances to turn his pop-up into a fully-fledged restaurant.

Opening the doors to Stoned Pizza in March 2016, the Braunton-based business serves a range of wood fired pizzas from classics like pepperoni to seasonal selections like autumn veggie and even a range of gourmet pizzas such as rump steak with garlic mushrooms and lobster and champagne!

Employing a staggering 45 members of staff, most of which are part-time and young themselves, Honey is in no doubt of where his pizza empire is heading:

“Ideally, we’ll have at least 10 shops in five years, and 50 in 10. If not, something’s gone wrong.”

With Jack Wills also starting off with just a single store in Devon, Honey’s big ambitions don’t seem completely out of reach.